Wednesday, May 13, 2015

My Top Ten Tips on how to convince your vet to help you even if your wallet is empty.

This is Finley, about the cutest kitten in the world.
When he broke his arm we fixed it for free.
We can afford to because we have generous vets and clients who help us so we can help others.
Accidents and illnesses happen. It is inescapable if you choose to care for other living beings. For all of us who entered the veterinary profession so that we could help animals the burden of being asked for help from those who cannot afford to pay for our services is nothing short of heart breaking. It is also omnipresent. We all realize that not having the funds to pay doesn't change the need, it only compounds the despair between those who want to care and feel helpless in doing so, and those of us who can help but feel entitled to be compensated. This leaves only bitterness on both sides left to resolve this divide.

If you are a vet you either turn a blind eye to the voice that is your conscious and you learn to accept being hardened by this reality. Or, you begin to find a way to help those in need at the expense of your debt burden.

If you are a caring person trying to help an animal in need, you too soon realize that it can be bank-breaking to continue, or even begin to try care. Or, you  find a rescue, shelter, non-profit who bridges the gap between traditional veterinary care and your growing fiscally driven indifference.

We get many questions on Pawbly from people who plea for help stating that they "can't go to the vet because they can't afford to go." I try to convince them that I am not truly trying to direct them to professional help as some sort of kick back scheme, but rather, I am trying to convince them to go because their pets life depends on it.

Some of us are students of our parents heeded warnings and have saved emergency funds for those inevitable 'rainy days'. The rest of us live by narrow margins without any wiggle room for the inevitable bumps  in life's road. Without going into a long winded commination about poor personal choices, I have to instead try to remind people that pets are living beings with complicated diseases and often involved etiologies. In almost all cases whatever is the presenting complaint is merely a tiny clue in the large pile of abnormalities that will help to unravel the mystery of the yet untitled illness. Vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, panting, lethargy, etc., are not things that reveal a disease, they are the prologue to the chapters of a diseases description that we must decipher before the last chapters of a treatment option can be read.

Is there a way to get help from the veterinarian for FREE? Much to people's disbelief I would say, "Yes!"

I am a big believer of being prepared for disaster and dark days. Much like having an emergency savings account. 'Tis much easier to ask for help when your vet knows you and believes in you. Start here. If you love your pets show your vet a little love. Those clouds loom on the other side of the horizon, have a favor lying in wait in your back pocket.

Here are some ideas on how to help you become the most valuable client to your vet and possibly convince your vet that they can't live without you even more than you can't live without them.

How can your talents might help your vet? 

1. Do you scrap book?
What about visiting the clinic every so often to take a few photos of the staffs pets? Or the special clinic pets, or even a few candid clients pets? Ask  your vet who some of their most memorable patients are and inquire to those clients if they could supply you with their favorite pet photos. Then make a photo album for waiting clients to peruse in the lobby.

A super creative client makes these cards for me to give out to staff and clients on
birthdays, special occasions, and just to say "Thanks."

2. Do you love to garden?
Maybe the flower boxes at the clinic need a little spiff up? Maybe you could volunteer to take over grounds keeping duties? I know one clinic whose local Master gardener sponsors the clinic and in return they get the best bragging rights in town.

3. Newsletter help. Love to write? 
Maybe  you could help provide content, interview a staff member, share a patient story, or help the clinic advertise their services? I would LOVE to have someone help me keep this monthly task up. I seem to always be trying to find time at the deadline to create the content for our Newsletter/blog.

4. Help spread the word on social media.
Keeping up with the daily social media Twitter and Facebook posts is sometimes impossible. Maybe you could help with posting a few happy pet videos a week? Even a

5. Grief Support Assistance.
Sadly, vets have to write many sympathy cards. Even more concerning is feeling like our clients who recently lost a pet have no one to lean on. Maybe you could offer assistance to help those going through the most difficult times of their lives? But all of us know what this grief feels like. And often all you have to do is just be a good listener. When I have a client who is struggling with  the loss of a companion I have a list of friends who can be there to offer support, a shoulder to lean  on, or a voice on the other end of the phone who understands and empathizes. The community of our vet practice extends beyond the hours of operation and the lives we lose along the way. It is one of the most precious parts of being able to share the love of our pets.

6. Love mowing the lawn?
I hate mowing the lawn. I would be elated to have a lawn mowing service, Or, better yet, a happy to provide a service in return client. Weeding, landscaping, even worse. There are many vets out there who would love a bit of hep in the green thumb department.

7. Decor in the clinic is a major undertaking for many vets.
We spend too much time in the exam room, or in the surgery, or even trying to . My favorite's are the paintings my mom does for the clinic. Who else would have original oil paintings as office decor that are changed out seasonally?

8. Snacks! 
Most of our days at the clinic are so busy that we often do not have time for lunch, or even a snack. We have just started to keep peanut butter, jelly, wheat bread, and salad fixings on hand everyday so that the staff can grab a quick meal on the run. We are also incredibly fortunate to have many clients who stop in with yummy snacks. One of our dear clients stops in weekly with bagels, another with muffins, and the greeting they receive when they walk in is equivalent to a ticker tape parade! It's a guarantee that we know their pets, and guaranteed the staff makes sure his pets get whatever they need whenever they need it.

9. Write an online review. Or, send a Thank-You.
We love to hear about how helping you take care of the important pets in your life feels.

10. How about forming social groups around our pets?
Dog walking expeditions, play date meetings, dog park excursions, or cat care counsels. All help to build and strengthen bonds between all of us and the pets we care for is what s central to our mission.

I still believe in the community of people that my practice is a part of. I know that my clinic's success is infinitely woven into our ability to serve each individual client and patient as someone who matters to our viability. If I don't help foster my community of caregivers I will not be able to provide care to those I started this journey in mind with. Our clinics success is measured by both our bottom line and our ability to assuage and quell that voice in our conscious that recognizes we are morally bound to help those whether or not they can afford us.

A big THANK YOU! to all of the many supporters, friends, and family that has become a part of the vision that Jarrettsville Vet has to never turn away a pet in need. Without you we couldn't help all of the pets that fill our days with purpose.

If you have an idea that has helped your vets practice please let me know. I would love to hear about it.

If you have a pet question, or pet experience that might help another pet parent, please visit us at our free pet centered platform, It is free for all to use and dedicated to assisting pets live longer healthier lives.

I can also be found on Twitter @FreePetAdvice.


  1. I love this. I'm going to re-post it because this is about truly creating a community of caring, and it's about genuinely strengthening bonds between pet owners/clients and the veterinary practice. Rather than focusing on what is lacking - financial resources - this post encourages us to identify the plentiful resources that we have at our disposal at any time. But for some reason we all tend to think in terms of dollar signs when it comes to evaluating whether or not we have "enough." This post suggests that we have more than enough - it just takes some creativity (some RESOURCEFULNESS) to recognize, access and apply resources such as love, friendship, compassion, cooperation, collaboration, time, talent, and other treasures of the heart and spirit.

  2. PS I didn't know your mom did all those paintings!!! I guess I didn't look closely enough to see her name, because I was too busy admiring the artwork! That is really wonderful :-)

  3. What a fantastic idea, to offer a trade in services if money is tight.

  4. This information will help a lot of families on a low income. It's unfortunate that vet treatment can be out of reach for some families, but hey, at least with a bit of creativity that can sort something out.